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Gun background checks: How would Senate proposal work, exactly? (+video)

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Is the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act sweeping enough to merit such emotions? Let’s run through its provisions so you can decide for yourself.

The first title of the bill deals with ways to get more names of prohibited purchasers into the existing background check system.

According to a summary posted by Toomey’s office, the act would “encourage” states to provide all their available records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It would do this by withholding some federal funds from states that drag their heels in this area.

Gun dealers would also be allowed to use the NICS to run background checks on their own employees, though they would not be required to do so. The act would also “clarify” that current privacy laws don’t prohibit the submission of mental-health records into the NICS.

Apropos of this, conservatives often complain that the federal government should try to enforce existing background-check laws before undertaking an expansion of gun control efforts. They say the feds undertake very few prosecutions of those who illegally try to buy firearms. Proponents of broader background checks say that prosecutions aren’t the right metric – the mere existence of the system scares off many potential illegal purchases, they say.

The second title of the bill is its heart. It would expand the current background check system to include all sales at gun shows, including those made from nonfederally licensed dealers. Sales between private individuals on or near the show premises would also become subject to checks.

“Our bill ensures that anyone buying a gun at a gun show has to undergo a background check by a licensed dealer,” says Manchin’s online summary of the legislation.

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